Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The One in Which I Italicise. A Lot.

The Pondicherry trip was okay. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if Nike hadn’t cribbed through the two days. Sure, we didn’t get anything to eat on the train to Chennai, and the bus to Pondicherry broke down, and the next bus we got on to had standing space only, and Auro beach was dirty and stinking and Auroville was closed by the time we got there, but STILL.

In Pondicherry, we didn’t do much. We stayed at a lovely heritage home. I love these old heritage homes, with their high ceilings, wide open courtyards, wooden beams and heavy doorknobs, and this one was all that and more. They served vadas and dosas and idlis for breakfast and it was all just perfect (see how I italicise all those words like I’m an Indian Writing in English, which I am, but I meant like a published author writing literary stuff, you know).

Anyway. We ate a lot in Pondicherry. We went to all these places where they served Creole cuisine. The food was expensive but very good. Nike complained that Creole cuisine seemed no different from the generic Continental cuisine but I said that was okay because Creole = French, and France is a part of the continent. He wasn’t reassured so on the final day he said we should eat the local cuisine which was Chettinad cuisine. And I said no, the local cuisine is Karaikudi cuisine. No matter, he said, and took me to Anjappar where we asked for Chettinad Chicken and got served Pepper Chicken instead. We enjoyed it until we found out it was Pepper Chicken and not Chettinad Chicken, and then we felt quite betrayed and disappointed. I theorised that we should never eat at chain restaurants that open branches abroad because then their focus is on their foreign branches, while the poor locals have to deal with sub-standard food and service.

We drove down to Auro Beach one evening, and it was dirty and stinking and Nike said “Gah! Vizag beach is a hundred times better than this” and I felt inordinately pleased; though in retrospect, I’m not exactly sure that was a compliment. We then drove to Auroville which was closed by the time we reached there but I was determined to enjoy the tiny little villages we drove through, except that Nike started a long discussion about why people would want to leave everything to come and live in an ashram in the middle of nowhere, and I gave him millions of reasons why people would want to do so, but he didn’t find any of the reasons convincing so I told him sternly that he shouldn’t judge other people by his own warped world view, but I don’t think he cared much for my words of wisdom. Oh well!

We walked up and down the promenade quite a bit, and it felt good to just sit and watch the waves crashing against the rocks. We also drove around the quaint French Quarter, which was simply lovely, and it made me want to go and live in France. Though I suppose I could as well go and live in Pondicherry! Apparently, Pondicherry is also home to 153 temples – which isn’t really surprising because there is a temple.on.every.single.street – but we didn’t visit any.

Our bus ride back to Chennai was eventful, to say the least. We got on to a bus which went by the bypass road instead of the ECR, and then the conductor convinced us to get off at this place called Perungalathur which is on the outskirts of Chennai. The auto drivers asked for 500 bucks!, yes you read that right, 500 bucks! to take us to the city.

Instead, we decided to take the local train, which cost only 12 bucks for the two of us, and where I had my own Alaipayuthey/Sakhi/Saathiya moment. I got into the ladies’ compartment and Nike got into the adjoining general compartment, and then I realised that my phone, wallet and ticket were all with Nike. And so at the next stop I ran into the adjoining compartment, which could as well have been a men’s compartment since it had only men (duh!), and pushed my way through the men, all the while urgently calling out for Nike. Every single person in the compartment was staring at me, and when I finally found Nike, there was a hushed silence, and I felt like they were all waiting for me to do something filmy, (like maybe hug him and burst into tears?). Instead, I took my wallet, phone and tickets from him, and ran back to my own compartment, leaving our audience very disappointed. Such drama in our lives, I tell you!

After this, we reached Chennai safe and sound, and made it to the wedding in time. The bride was looking absolutely radiant and lovely, and the groom was looking decent, which is saying a lot for him (BJ, I hope you’re reading this). We congratulated the happy couple, thulped the yummy food and headed back to the hotel for a night out with the gang. It shows how much we have matured over the years that everyone stayed sober that night. Well, that’s not really true, but nobody got drunk either and we all turned in by 2.30 that night, and some of us even woke up at 5am that morning and made it to the wedding on time, while the rest trooped in for breakfast. This new-found discipline and punctuality is a sure sign of old age.

So that’s all about Pondicherry and Chennai. I had more adventures on my way to Bhubaneswar and I had a great time at home in Vizag for Deepavali but for now, I’ll leave you with this much. How was your Deepavali?